Looking Back on 2020

Even during a global pandemic, Diabetes Research Connection (DRC) remains committed to our mission of funding innovative type 1 diabetes (T1D) research this year. DRC’s board, staff, and volunteers have worked hard over the past few months to cut costs and raise new funds to continue supporting early-career scientists. 

In 2020 alone, DRC has distributed over $500,000 to research! This brings DRC to a total of 32 funded research projects. We received updates from past projects this year that you can read through on our website. DRC is thrilled to continue directly connecting our community to the researchers they support. We are spending time reflecting on 2020 and invite you to look back on DRC’s milestones throughout the year with us.

A small group gathered at an in-home wine and cheese night at a board member’s home in January. These small gatherings allow people to learn more about DRC and create space for our community to stay connected.

Our annual Ill Fornaio Fundraiser was held in February. We had a very successful event where 70 members of our community attended and ate dinner with a percentage of all proceeds donated to DRC!

March brought its challenges, but DRC funded even more new research! Multiple projects funded by individual families, such as the Tarson family and the Stiehls, went live on our website. DRC provides the opportunity for individuals to name an entire research project after their family, foundation, or loved one affected by type 1 diabetes. 

DRC also funded the following projects in spring: Step 1 in a new strategy to preserve insulin secretion in people with T1D,” Francesco Vendrame, M.D. Ph.D. and Allison  Bayer, Ph.D. of the University of Miami and “A New Approach to Disrupting the Onset of T1D,” Rizwan Ahmed, Ph.D. of Johns Hopkins University.

After hearing so many of our supporters say they wanted to stay connected and were dealing with the stress of staying home, DRC launched its first virtual gathering in April, focused on mental health. DRC hosted a total of six of these gatherings featuring our supported scientists and exciting updates on their T1D research. You can still watch these on our website.

Amidst online training and ZOOM team building calls, DRC  shared our mission and vision at the May Del Mar Rotary presentation held online.

A generous family pledged in June to match all donations made that month. This allowed donors to double their impact and resulted in DRC raising over $100,000 in a time when even the smallest gifts helped DRC in big ways! This support allowed for the funding of a new project, “Preserving Retinal Cells Survival and Function for Potential Clinical Studies in T1D,” Frans Vinberg, Ph.D. of the University of Utah.

DRC launched its new website in July. We continue to receive incredible feedback about it.

In August, in preparation for our annual Dance for Diabetes, DRC produced our organizational film 2020 Committed to Our Mission.

DRC had to pivot our strategy and get creative to allow our community an opportunity for fun, so we premiered our Virtual Dance for Diabetes in September. We had 340+ RSVPs, over 500 views on YouTube, raised close to $190,000, and had 50+ new donors join our family after this event. 

This fall, DRC received three times the average amount of applications for funding of new projects. In October, two research projects went live on our website. “Cell Silence can be golden to improving the cure for T1D,” Raphael P.H Meier, M.D., Ph.D. of the University of California, San Francisco and “Do Classical T1D Patients Share Genetic Makeup with ICI-Induced T1D Patients?”Jeremy Racine, Ph.D. of The Jackson Laboratory.

This year alone, we expanded our Board of Directors by four! In November, National Diabetes Awareness Month, DRC shared the T1D stories of those in our community. This month, DRC funded another new project, A New Signal to Halting T1D,” Jing Hughes, MD, Ph.D. of Washington University School of Medicine.

DRC is anticipating distributing even more than $500,000 to research in 2020 alone! DRC is ending the year funding one more new research project in December, “Advancing T1 Prevention and Cure Solutions from Cancer Research,” Zoe Quandt, MD, Ph.D. of the University of San Francisco.

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